Rewind back to Monday 2nd August, and the still blue dawn encouraged me up to Beer Head to see if there were any early autumn migrants around. It was a beautiful morning which warmed up surprisingly quickly...
|Looking east from The Summit|
On the bird front there wasn't much variety (well one Whitethroat and a flyover Redshank to be precise) but the still conditions had clearly encouraged Willow Warblers to move. I counted 28 during my hour and a half wander, although I suspect there were more like 50 on-site. Autumn Willow Warblers aren't the easiest subjects to photograph, so I was dead chuffed when this one stayed still for more than three seconds...
|The uncropped version, nothing wrong with a bit of shrubbery in shot!|
|The cropped version which I also love! A sherbet-lemon beauty.|
It was about two minutes after I took the above photo that my morning went to another level. Stratospheric in fact. And it happened along this hedgerow at 07:55...
|'The Gorse Hedge'. Yes we didn't really think too hard about the name of this part of Beer Head!|
I was suddenly aware of a vivid blue and green-thoraxed dragonfly hawking in the lee of the hedge. My immediate thought was Emperor, but once my brain had caught up with the fact I'd never seen an Emperor up here before, and that it didn't quite look long enough in the body, my pulse began to race. I was willing for it to land... which thankfully it did! This was my first photo...
|That's no Emperor! It's a bright blue Hawker... with bright blue eyes!|
I'd done it. After years of searching and hoping, and when I really wasn't expecting it, I'd only gone and found my first Southern Migrant Hawker! A stunning male too...
|Just look at those eyes! Hypnotically blue. Lovely reddish pterostigma too which I wasn't expecting|
The key identification features in the above photos being:
- Blue and black body
- Green thorax sides
- Blue eyes
- Restricted antehumeral markings (that's the small green marks between front wing base and head)
- Triangle marking on segment two
Unfortunately after only a few minutes of enjoying this beast I really had to leave as was already running late for work, but this didn't hamper my enjoyment of it, not one bit. I was disappointed though that it didn't stick around for others to see, in fact Kev looked for it less than half an hour later and there was no sign.
Now I could spiel off my own interpretation of the distribution of Southern Migrant Hawker in the UK, but the fantastic British Dragonfly Society website will do it much better than me...
|Still just about identifiable! Note the mostly plain dark abdomen with blue restricted to upper sections.|